Symphony musicians deal means doing more with less - WKRN News 2

Symphony musicians deal means doing more with less

Posted: Updated: Aug 28, 2013 08:59 PM

While Nashville Symphony CEO Alan Valentine is "profoundly grateful" at the 15% pay cuts musicians greed to by musicians Tuesday, he says "one of the most extraordinary things" in this contract is "more flexibility to step up our commitment to the community."

That means more things like music education in the schools and more free concerts in a variety of venues in the Middle Tennessee area.

It also means the Nashville Symphony players will work more for less pay.

"It says a lot about how much these musicians care about this community," Valentine told News 2 in one of his first television interviews after a tumultuous summer.

The contract with musicians is only a one year deal that Valentine calls "fairly unusual," but added both sides did not make promises they can't keep.

"I think the musicians,as we do, have high hopes that things will improve as we go thru this year that we might have something else to talk about in the next round," added the symphony CEO.

The local musicians union that negotiated the one-year deal was a little more specific about what the players would like to see next year.

In a statement and in conversations to News 2, Dave Pomeroy, the president of Nashville Musicians Association AFM Local 257, touted the symphony players.

"Their collective sacrifice is a testimony to their ongoing commitment to our community and we certainly hope that Nashville music lovers will appreciate this and increase their level of support for the Symphony now and for years to come," said Pomeroy. "We look forward to working with the Symphony Association towards a mutual goal of restoring NSO salaries to a level commensurate with their world-class talent as soon as possible."

In June, the symphony teetered on the edge of foreclosure just a month before its contract with the musicians expired.

Restructuring its debt with a heavy dose of backing from long-time benefactor Martha Ingram averted a sale of the Schermerhorn Symphony Center that had actually been scheduled for late June.

The symphony also got out of the catering business by letting go its food and beverage workers this summer, but CEO Valentine sounded optimistic about the coming year.

"We are going to work as hard as possible to raise the money that is necessary so we can look back and say, ‘Wow! What a difference a year makes,'" he told News 2, but he quickly added, "that we need the community's help to succeed."

That's means trying to reach out to new donors and bring more people into the Schermerhorn with a variety of events from pop, to country, even comedy.

"As for the traditional classical events, Valentine says the cost of some seating has been lowered to $27 a ticket, "and it's not up in the nosebleed section."

The new season is scheduled to begin September 5.

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